Two candidates for attorney general, Republican Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel and Democratic Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne admitted this week to being arrested for drunken driving as young adults.
In a statement on Wednesday, Schimel said he was arrested and received an operating while intoxicated offense in 1990, which is a non-criminal offense in Wisconsin.
“I made a terrible error of judgment as a young person, and it’s a mistake that I deeply regret,” Schimel said in the statement. “My experience led to me to help create a variety of innovative and successful programs designed to reduce the number of first-time offenders and repeat drunk drivers.”
The statement also said Schimel served as a member of the Waukesha County Alcohol Treatment Court and Waukesha County Addiction Resource Council. He was also a president of the Preventing Alcohol Related Crashes Task Force.
According to reporting from the Associated Press, Ozanne also admitted to being ticketed in a drunken driving-related crash yesterday.
“This was a mistake I made as a teenager and I learned a valuable lesson,” Ozanne said. “I took responsibility for my actions and I knew, even then, how fortunate it was that no one was physically injured.”
Calls to the Ozanne campaign for comment were not returned.
Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, the third candidate for attorney general, said he was disappointed that Schimel was not more forthcoming about his past over the course of his campaign.
“I think going forward I would hope that he would join our call in the Legislature to crack down on drunk driving, because it’s a serious problem,” Richards said.
In a statement, Richards said Schimel’s mistakes as a teenager are irrelevant to the current race for attorney general.
According to Richards’ statement, the Assembly has sent the Senate four bipartisan bills regarding public safety.
“Drunk driving is a serious problem in our state and something that we need to address,” Richards said. “I would hope that he would join in the call in the Legislature that would eliminate the 10 year look-back on drunk driving.”
According to the Department of Transportation, state law provides for fines of $150 to $300 without confinement for first OWI offenses and second offenses. An OWI becomes a felony after the fifth offense.
Richards said he would make cracking down on drunk driving a priority as attorney general.